Universal Warrior (or The Machines, as is the official title of the PC version) is a top-down maze shooter in the vein of Gauntlet and Alien Breed, with added economic elements. The game alternates between equipment management and the actual in-level action, in which a remote-controlled robot runs through maze-like maps and shoots mechanical enemies. With the money earned in these sci-fi contests, improved equipment can be bought in five categories, making the robot more powerful, more maneuverable and less easy to damage. On the other hand, getting damaged means you must spend money on repairs. This encourages careful and effective playing.
The game can be played solo, competitively in two-player hot-seat mode or cooperatively in split-screen mode.
The Amiga and the PC version of the game have the same basic design, but entirely different levels. For a comprehensive list of differences between the versions see the trivia section.
The Machines is an okay overhead shooter game similar in style to Team 17's (vastly superior) Alien Breed or freeware classic C-DOGS. The plot, as is common for this kind of game, is negligible: in the far future, you are in charge of the intelligent robots who, naturally, one day rebel against their human masters. Make your way through dozens of level, armed with various kinds of weapons. You can collect bombs and other bonus items throughout the level, as well as money used to purchase better equipment. There's not much to recommend this game due to repetitive gameplay, uninteresting level designs and enemies, and lack of decent challenge. The upshot is that you can play against another human player in hot-seat, split-screen mode, but even that is little consolation considering how average the game is.
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